Randy Carlyle fired by Toronto Maple Leafs, finally

Randy Carlyle fired by Toronto Maple Leafs, finally

After years of souring, Randy Carlyle finally reached his expiration date.

The Toronto Maple Leafs fired their much-maligned coach on Tuesday morning, after a 21-16-3 start that was good enough to have them clinging to a wild card in the terrible Eastern Conference but not much else.

From the Leafs:

David Nonis, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, announced Tuesday morning that head coach Randy Carlyle has been relieved of his duties. Assistant coaches Peter Horachek and Steve Spott will handle coaching duties in the Club’s next game Wednesday night as the Leafs host the Washington Capitals.

The Leafs (21-16-3) are fourth in the Atlantic Division with 45 points, one point ahead of the Boston Bruins for the second Eastern Conference wild-card berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“I want to thank Randy for all of his hard work and dedication,” said Nonis. “It’s never an easy decision to make when changing your leadership but our team was not trending in the right direction and we felt an immediate change was necessary.”

Hired by the Maple Leafs on March 2, 2012, Carlyle compiled a record of 91 wins, 78 losses, and 19 overtime/shootout losses in 188 games behind the Maple Leafs’ bench. The 58-year-old holds a career NHL coaching record of 364 wins, 260 losses, and 80 overtime/shootout losses in 704 games between the Anaheim Ducks and Toronto.

Carlyle had been criticized for … well, everything.

His team’s possession stats. His personnel decisions, before his hand was forced to stop writing "Colton Orr" into the lineup. His reputation from his Anaheim days was as a defensive wizard, and yet the Leafs were second in the League in goals per game (3.18), which was undercut by being No. 25 in team defense (3.02) because, apparently, Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger aren’t walking through that door for him anymore.

Why fire him now? The 5-1 loss at the Winnipeg Jets on Jan. 3 was the nadir of the season. They were 3-7-0 in their last 10 games. And Carlyle decided it was time to turn the heat up on Dave Nonis and Brendan Shanahan:

“You don’t always have the luxury to say that you’d like this player or that player or this type of player. That’s not the way it works,” Carlyle said. “How it works is you have an organization that provides you with players, and our job, as we’ve said all along, is just to coach ’em up.”

Shanahan was in the building that night, having traveled to Winnipeg to watch the Leafs.

And, it turns out, Carlyle’s last game as coach.